Mazda introduced the original MX-5 all the way back in 1989, and it immediately became a hit because of its principals. You see, Mazda decided the MX-5 should be a lightweight roadster that was rear wheel drive and boasted near perfect weight distribution. The best part? You didn't have to fork out a ridiculous amount of money, the MX-5 was an affordable car for people that valued that low-slung driving experience.
To this day, Mazda have comfortably sold over one million MX-5s since they introduced them during the late eighties - a remarkable achievement. With every generation that has passed by, Mazda have merely improved the original formula so that the MX-5 remains up-to-date. With so many examples out there, you can be sure there is an MX-5 to suit your requirements and budget.
The MX-5 has always been a charming car to look at. The small body shell and curved body panels hark back to classic roadsters from the 50s/60s, giving the MX-5 a stunning presence as you drive down the back roads in the countryside.
However, although the first three generations could be labelled under the "cute" category, the latest MX-5 boasts a more purposeful and aggressive complexion. The lines throughout the body are more angled and don't contour as fluidly as they did on previous modes, while the lower ride height and slanted headlights increase the MX-5's head-turning abilities.
The interior of the MX-5 has always been designed to be functional and driver orientated. The first thing to note when you get in the car is just how low down you sit, with the gear selector just to the left of the steering wheel so time spent changing gear is kept to a minimum.
As the generations have passed, the MX-5 has generally become a pleasant place to spend long journeys. The materials used are good quality and you shouldn't expect any rattles or squeaks. The fourth generation MX-5 boasts luxuries such as an infotainment system, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity for good measure.
This is where the MX-5 has excelled through each generation. The recipe for a lightweight roadster that is low slung and rear wheel drive is always going to be popular among the driving enthusiasts. However, Mazda took this recipe and added a fizzing naturally aspirated engine (no turbo etc.) that loves to rev and paired it with super slick gearbox that encourages you to drive enthusiastically. Every car through each generation has remained the same.
The fine chassis balance and slick drivetrain make the MX-5 bags of fun through the twisty stuff, it's so easy to seamlessly connect corners together without ever going excessively (ahem) over the speed limit.
The MX-5 is a sports car with two seats. It has storage compartments in the interior and a boot that can just about accommodate your weekly shop and some weekend away luggage. That's about it, really.
Engines and transmissions
This is quite an easy one. The MX-5 is ultimately a driver's car, so therefore you won't be finding any with a diesel engine under the bonnet. Every MX-5 is also naturally aspirated too, meaning there are no turbochargers. As a result, you do have to rev the car to get the best out of it, but this is no hardship.
The latest generations that you're most likely to buy come with two different engine options (a 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre petrol engine respectively). The fourth generation boasts Mazda's incredible SkyActiv engine technology that gives you high-revving fun without the downfalls of high emissions and fuel consumption. 5-speed and 6-speed manual gearboxes are available. You can also get an automatic, but we're not sure why you'd want to.
There's been a lot of talk about driving enthusiasts throughout this overview of the MX-5. And the reason for that is simple, it is a well-balanced car that is a blast to drive down country roads and the coastline.
Having said that, the MX-5 is certainly a stylish looking car and can definitely accommodate drivers who enjoy a more leisurely journey with the roof down.
With better refinement and a comfortable ride, the more modern models also make great long distance cruisers, which is essential for those weekends away with the other half.